Answering the ‘Tell Me About Yourself’ Job Interview Question

When asked at the beginning of a job interview, the “tell me about yourself” question is certainly not a request for a brief personal biography! Your answer to the question definitely should be laser-focused on the specific task at hand: Getting the position for which you are applying! A three-part answer works best Parts One and Two can normally be used from interview to interview, while Part Three will need to be customized for each unique career opportunity. Let’s briefly examine the makeup of each of the three parts.

  1. Normally, Part one will consist of a one-sentence statement of your career history, i.e., essentially the condensed version of your entire career history. But that’s not as challenging as perhaps it might first appear. Here is an example of how Part One can easily be constructed:
  2. “I am a five-year veteran of LAN/WAN administration and systems engineering, with substantial experience using Novell, NT, Cisco and Lotus Notes/Domino.”

  3. Part two consists of a one- OR two-sentence summary of a single career accomplishment that you are especially proud of and one that can reasonably be expected to capture the potential employer’s attention. It must also be an accomplishment that can be easily explained and/or illustrated and it absolutely MUST highlight a “bottom-line” impact for the potential employer. Here is an example:
  4. “Recently, as a long-term contract employee at a local regional bank, I learned that the bank was about to install Lotus Notes/Domino and they were planning to use outside consultants for the project. I let them know that I had done a similar installation at my last assignment, outlined how we could get the job done with in-house staff and successfully complete the installation for $55-$65K less than it would have cost with outside consultants.”

  5. This final part is the most dynamic, as well as the part that must be customized to fit the particular career opportunity being sought. It needs to be a one- OR two-sentence summary of specifically what you want to do in your next career move AND it must be relevant to the position being sought. Here is an example of how Part Three might be constructed:
  6. “For the next step in my career, I would like to move away from contract work and find myself as a direct employee of a large firm where I can join a substantial IT team and be involved with a group that focuses on email and network security applications, while having access to the knowledge base that would come with a large, diverse IT group.”

    OR, here is yet another example of how Part Three might be prepared:

    “For the next step in my career, I would like to find myself as a direct employee of a small- to medium-sized firm that is looking to hire an in-house IT generalist so I can continue growing my career by getting exposure to multiple IT areas, such as networking, help desk, security, and application issues for the users of the organization. As the firm’s IT needs grow, I would love to apply my past team project management skills to managing the members of a small, growing IT team.”

    As you can see, two very different endings but ones that perfectly match what two different employers are looking for in a candidate.

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